In the last 10 years, business aviation safety has improved dramatically. During this period, the entire industry has been the subject of numerous equipment and procedural requirements intended to reduce accidents. But have these requirements indeed improved safety or were they just financial, maintenance and procedural headaches for the thousands of operators who were forced to comply?
Terrain awareness and warning system
On September 21, the FAA has scheduled the first public meeting to discuss RTCA's Special Committee (SC) 212 on helicopter terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS). The committee’s work and recommendations to the FAA could lead to a proposal to require TAWS on private or commercial turbine rotorcraft.
The FAA granted Innovative Solutions & Support an STC on September 14 for installation of two and four 10-inch display units in the Pilatus PC-12. Like its previous PC-12 approval for installation of two 15-inch display units, IS&S’ new STC includes the cockpit/information portal and TCAS, TAWS and RVSM compatibility.
Universal Avionics continues to expand its EFI-890R retrofit cockpit program, most recently by announcing STC projects with IFR Avionics and Premier Air/West Star Aviation to bring the glass cockpit to the Gulfstream II and III and the Falcon 50.
Eclipse Aviation received FAA type certification for the Eclipse 500 on September 30, becoming the second very light jet manufacturer to achieve the milestone approval behind Cessna, which had the card for its Citation Mustang VLJ punched a few weeks earlier.
The Piper Meridian turboprop single will soon receive a production-line upgrade to Avidyne’s Entegra cockpit as a replacement for the airplane’s original Meggitt avionics, the Vero Beach, Fla.-based airplane manufacturer announced last month. The flight-deck change for the Meridian puts Avidyne aboard almost the entire Piper line-up after the lightplane maker earlier brought optional glass Entegra systems to several of its piston models.
The scene at a recent aviation trade show illustrates perfectly what has become an industry-wide dilemma. An avionics sales representative had just finished giving a seasoned flight department manager a nearly hour-long sneak preview of his employer’s newest retrofit cockpit system.
Analysis of last year’s fatal accident involving a King Air carrying Macedonian president Boris Trajkovski and others reinforces the value of the FAA’s requirements for terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS) on certain aircraft.
It was a night tailor-made for flying– smooth air, barely a cloud in the sky and miles of visibility. The center controller had handed the crew off to approach control with a friendly, “G’night,” and within a few minutes the pilots were cleared for a visual approach to the active runway about 15 miles straight ahead. From their position, the crew could easily see the airport, enveloped by the sodium-vapor shimmer of the city’s vast downtown.
Pulling into position for takeoff or passing the final approach fix for landing, especially at a mountain airport, presents many challenges. The accident history of corporate jets indicates an apparent lack of preparation for contingencies, such as engine failure on takeoff, mountain wave turbulence, extreme cold temperature errors in altimeters, technology glitches, changes in IFR clearance and so on.